Know your Way around the Treasures of County Tyrone

Updated On: March 06, 2023

Sperrin Mountains, County Tyrone

Ireland is divided into 32 counties. The Northern part of Ireland has 6 counties and County Tyrone is one of them. In the Irish language, it is called “Tír Eoghain” which means “land of Eoghan”. The name “County Tyrone” is coming from ‘Tyrone’ the Gaelic kingdom which survived till the 17th century.

The county lies on the shores of the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles, Lough Neagh. With all the significant history every county in Ireland has, County Tyrone has great importance itself especially when it comes to beautiful sceneries and pop culture. So, here you can know your way around some of the most interesting treasures in the County.

The Stone Circles in Beaghmore

The stone circles and cairns in Beaghmore are one of the most mysterious places around Ireland and date back to the Bronze Age. In fact, no one knows for sure why it existed in the first place or what its purpose of it was. Yet the secrecy of it and the special location attract curious people and those who are interested in paranormal things.

The circles’ location extends for around 10 miles towards the northwestern direction of Cookstown. Exactly in the southeastern part of the Sperrin Mountains. The spot was discovered in the 1940s during a peat cutting. The site contains seven stone circles, six of them are said to be paired. It also contains ten stone rows and tens of round cairns of which some of them have human bone remains buried under them.

You can tell the difference between the single circle and paired circles by size. Paired circles are a bit bigger than the single ones. The interior of the single circle is also very unique as it has more than 800 small stones gathered inside of it. Which is the reason why it’s called “the dragon teeth”.

Beaghmore Stone Circles, County Tyrone
Beaghmore Stone Circles, County Tyrone

Some would think this is just a space with some stones placed in a certain order, what’s so special about it?! Well, we said it’s considered an attraction to those who are interested in weird and mysterious spots. The nature of the site actually suggests it was a place where people in the past had either social or religious gatherings to perform certain rituals.

Some archaeologists have a different theory. They believe these circles have been formed with some mysterious relationship with the sun when it reaches the highest or the lowest point in the sky (solstice). Or maybe it has some relationship with the movements of the sun and the moon.

Interestingly, three of the stone rows are placed in the direction of the sunrise at the solstice. While others are placed towards the direction of the moonrise at the solstice too. But there is nothing more discovered regarding these placements so there is not much known about it.

Some people say the human bone remains there belong to children. Some said they heard children’s voices while visiting. Others said they felt a child’s existence touching their hands. Other stories report that they felt weird energy on the site.

Whether these stories are true or just affected by the mysterious spirit of the site, it would definitely be an interesting experience to pay the stone circles in County Tyrone a visit. So don’t wait, go discover the secrets of the spot yourself!

Discover the Sperrin Mountains

The name “Sperrin” refers to the Irish word ‘Speirín’ which means “little pinnacle”. The Spring Mountains, in fact, is the biggest high land spot in Ireland. Those mountains extend between both County Tyrone and County Londonderry. Due to its importance and breathtaking sceneries, the region is considered an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with a population of approximately 150,000 people living around it.

Well, thanks to the Ice Age, now we get to see different magnificent views there. From the stunning valleys of Owenkillew and Glenelly to Barnes Gap and Gortin Glen. The ice during the Ice Age refined all of this was to leave us with the breathtaking views we are seeing now around the region. One can see those beautiful views of Errigal and Muckish from far away, it can actually be seen from County Donegal.

Sperrin Mountains, County Tyrone
Sperrin Mountains, County Tyrone

There are four driving roads among the Sperrin Mountains of which one can enjoy magnificent landscapes and historical views. That makes the area a perfect spot for road trips. Interestingly, National Geographic listed the routes of the Sperrin Mountains among its Top 101 Scenic Drives in the World. According to National Geographic, the Sperrin Mountains have “wild beauty, ideal trails, and dreamy villages”.

The area of The Sperrin Mountains is also the perfect spot for taking long walks and enjoying the natural sceneries. It is also popular for parachuting, horse-riding, and gliding. If you’re there, you might also give the Stone Circles at Beaghmore a visit, they are close. There are many forest and river trails nearby as well. Those trails can be used to enjoy a walk or some time cycling maybe.

Travel Back into America’s Presidential History

As the Sperrin Mountains and their beautiful natural spots are pretty much dominating a big part of County Tyrone, there’s also an interesting history that lies within them. There, you can actually explore a part of America’s presidential history.

In a surprising combination, at County Tyrone, you can actually travel back in time and discover some of America’s history and the ‘White House’. By paying a visit to Wilson Ancestral Home, you get to learn about how a local man named James Wilson had a part in shaping the destiny of the United States’ 28th Presidency.

This white cottage standing on the downhills of the Sperrin Mountains is where Judge James Wilson lived. In fact, James Wilson is the grandfather of America’s 28th President Woodrow Wilson, who led America through World War I (1914 – 1918). Woodrow served as the President of the United States from 1913 to 1921. James Wilson left this house standing on the slopes of the Sperrins and immigrated to the United States. And if it wasn’t for him leaving, who knows, his grandson might have never been the President to the United States during that crucial time!

The cottage actually still holds many of the family’s original belongings. That includes furniture, for example, and a small bed. If you’re visiting, you’ll find a portrait of Judge James Wilson, the President’s grandfather close to the fireplace in the house.

Speaking of visiting, yes the place is open to the public! There are guided tours that usually take place in July and August. It’s important to mention that the opening hours are not fixed and can change from time to time, so it’s better if you call in advance and make sure you know the recent opening hours.

Gortin Glen Forest Park

Six miles away from the western direction of the Sperrin Mountains in County Tyrone stands Gortin Glen Forest Park. The forest park has been open since the year 1967. The different trails at the park give you the opportunity to enjoy plenty of the natural fauna and flora there. In fact, the park is the first forest park built in a pure coniferous forest.

The forest park has an exceptional drive route that extends for 5 miles and actually offers distinctive sceneries. So you get to enjoy plenty of pleasant views without even getting out of the car.

Besides the enjoyable car journey, visitors can enjoy many activities at the forest park. Those activities include walking, biking up the mountain, and sometimes horse-riding though this requires permission. Visitors can also enjoy the experience of camping there at the Gorten Glin Forest Park and maybe enjoy some BBQ time.

The forest park has many facilities including car parks for sure. Moreover, the forest park opens on a daily basis from 10 am until sunset. There are around five walking trails at the forest park that are color-coded and one of them actually has a cool name! The one with the cool name is ‘Robbers Table’, this walking trail extends for 8.1 miles of hill walking which offers amazing views.

There is ‘Gortin Forest Nature Trail’, this trail extends for 1.25 miles and it offers a nice walk in the forest. There is also the ‘Gortin Forest Pollan Trail’, this trail extends for 1.5 miles and offers a pleasant walk through the trails in the forest. If you’re up for a walk up the hills, there is the ‘Gortin Forest Ladies View’ trail which extends for 2.25 miles and will offer you a nice walking experience. And there is the smallest of the trails, ‘Gortin Lakes’, which actually offers a walk around the forest lakes and extends for 0.6 miles.

So in case, this seems interesting to you, and it should be interesting!! An adventure around natural sceneries, mountains, lakes, and BBQ parties! Who would say no to that?! So if you’re near County Tyrone now or visiting soon, start planning for your visit to Gorten Glin Forest Park!

Visit the Ulster American Folk Park

The Ulster American Park is among the places you should check out in County Tyrone. The park is considered an open museum. This open museum is standing in Omagh, County Tyrone. Discover the stories and secrets of the Irish folks who immigrated thousands of years ago to America across the Atlantic. Stroll around cottages made of thatch and log cabins.

The park is open from Tuesday to Friday from 10 am to 4 pm and from Saturday to Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm. Your visit to the Ulster American Folk Park will not just help you unravel many stories and secrets but it will also give you the chance to try some of their good food!

Revive your inner explorer with the 30 different constructions and exhibits. It’s not just a place for individual explorers, that’s also a place for families as there are plenty of activities. Your visit to Ulster American Park gives you the opportunity to step on a replica of the ship of which immigrants took to travel back to their homes hundreds of years ago.

Everything at the Ulster American Folk Park is unique and different, even the celebrations of Independence Day on the 4th of July there at the park are celebrated differently. If you’re close to County Tyrone around the 4th of July, it would be perfect to go and enjoy the different celebrations.

The Park offers a good service to its visitors and unique hospitality. During your visit, you can take a break and enjoy coffee, tea, and a cold drink in the nice weather and the perfect setting. Especially during the time of Christmas as well as the New Year’s holidays.

Old Herdman’s Flax Mill

Want to know what to do in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland? Old Herdman’s Flax Mill is one of the must-visit places to immerse yourself in the history of this charming city.

Dating back to 1835, Old Herdman’s Flax Mill is a historic landmark located in Sion Mills, a quaint community built by Herdman’s brother on the banks of River Mourne. Nestled in Sperrin Mountain, the village will provide a tranquil setting, extensive stretches of greenery landscapes, and heather-laden moors. Conventively located on the western side of County Tyrone, the best way to reach the village from Belfast is to catch a bus from Belfast Europa Bus Centre that will take you to Sion Mills Melmount Road in about 2h 13m for $19 – $26.

Wandering about the town will take you on a journey through time, allowing you to learn about the history of making the best linen in the world. Exactly here, Herdman’s brothers made the decision to settle down and immediately took the steps of building their agricultural empire. They collaborated with many workers to develop this valley and place it on the map of Northern Ireland’s tourist attractions. This facility saved thousands of lives from starvation, the largest mill in Europe during the Industrial Revolution.

It’s a story of dedication, devotion, and passion since the family stayed here for seven generations. Herdman’s family had applied the concept of sensibility before anyone else. 

But it’s also important to know that this site hosted a corn mill before. When Herdman’s showed up here, they had an ambitious long-term plan to lay the foundation for a non-sectarian community, not just a developing-manufacturing village. All people are equal, all people have the same rights, and all people should work together to help their society survive.

Then the Herdman Brothers brought this site alive, hired the architectural company Lanyon, Lynn. In just a few years, the family successfully extended its social enterprise and constructed another industrial complex that embodied the beautiful Italian design.

That’s why you can see, feel, and touch the refreshing contrast. This village holds between how to start over and keep pristine nature as it is.

It will be a great idea to go beyond Old Herdman’s Flax Mill to chat with locals, play some bagpipes or cuddle a Highland cow. Be careful to read the guidelines and highlights of the place if you don’t need to follow a guided tour. 

Visit Sion Mills in spring and enjoy lush purple trees. It’s a perfect indulgent break with unbeatable laid-back vibes!

Explore Ardstraw

Ardstraw will give you insight into non-stop ways of life in a small metropolitan area. Nevertheless, there’s still a lot to see and do here. Situated outside Castlederg and Newtownstewart, Ardstraw is brimming with things you should do. 

Suppose you yearn to see the real beauty and identify the distinctive culture of the UK and Northern Ireland specifically. In that case, you will be invited to see one of the best Northern Ireland villages, Ardstraw. One of the most common errors most visitors make is to be limited to only popular sights in favor of worthy places. However, I see Northern Ireland is home to wonders— it’s all must-dos, but you shouldn’t miss your chance to go beyond Belfast and hiking trails of renowned national parks.

A lot of opportunities for you to treat your eyes range from antique architecture and impressive buildings with a sense of lively community. 

Partly located in Omagh, the only way to reach this village is to go to Belfast Europa Bus Centre and book a ticket to Omagh. The entire journey takes 1h 40m for $16 – $21. After that, for $7 – $10, you may board the Line 273 bus, which will take you to your ultimate destination in 1h 31m.

That means it seems impossible to make it a day trip. Instead, you need to stay here for at least one night, which would be a gift. You’ll discover a plethora of elegant and traditional accommodations, including world-class amenities and situated in the center of scenic ambiance.

Ardstraw is blessed with a myriad of points of interest. So let’s see what you can do there; take a stroll around the Village Well and sock up this typical atmosphere in which awesome houses with unique medieval-style along the way and ample open spaces for relaxation and fresh air. And it’s not just about historical highlights. The area has recently been invigorated by dynamic new facilities from posh restaurants and other places that are becoming perfect for families. 

Then head to Ardstraw Presbyterian Church, a place that stepped inside the history. Stop for a while to explore the church and listen to its history. 

After that, you can take a ride through the Jubilee Stone. It’s a sensory experience that helps you hit hidden corners of Ardstraw. Before leaving, make sure that you visit the banks of River Derg with its stone towers, walls, and bridge. 

At the end of the day, plan to explore Ardstraw Graveyard with endless spaces embracing cattle and a more enjoyable experience of domestic communities. By this, you will absolutely make it well and take your pick from the village’s impressive array of history and nature.

Enjoy the Musical Experience of the Bluegrass Festival

Visiting County Tyrone around September is always a fun experience. It’s the time of the year when one of the biggest music festivals in the region, The Appalachian and Bluegrass Music Festival, takes place in the Ulster American Folk Park. Pack your stuff and get ready for three days of an awesome musical experience from across Europe and North America.

The award-winning Appalachian and Bluegrass Music Festival is actually the largest music festival outside of North America. The festival features some of the greatest bands in the world of music from Ireland, Canada, and the USA linking traditional music with the modern world’s musical expressions. This festival attracts more than 5,000 music lovers from around the region.

In addition to its fame, the fact that the festival is taking place in the Ulster American Folk Park is adding to the experience. Given the significance of the park and its nice setting and adding to it the one-of-a-kind musical experience, this is something you should definitely add to your list.

We know for sure that every county in the thirty-two counties around Ireland has its own individual significance which makes it unique in its own way. If you’re planning your visit to Ireland you need to make a list of the places you want to go to and the things you want to do in each county to have a complete experience. But now, you know your first steps around County Tyrone and you can cross off your list! Follow our guide to the County, explore more, and have your own adventure.

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